I'm new to decorating and have only done a few cakes. I usually do them the night before I need them (or the morning of). But now with two kids I don't have the time. How far in advance can I decorate a cake with buttercream frosting? Should I refrigerate or leave out on counter? Thanks for any advice.
Refrigerating depends on whether you use a perishable filling or not. If your filling is not perishable, there is no need to refrigerate a cake.
Once a cake is iced, the icing actually seals the cake, protecting it from the cake-drying-air, much like the plastic bag keeps your loaf of bread soft and edible for days and days.
Most of the time, I at least crumb coat on Thursday, ice/decorate on friday for a Sat delivery. I never refrigerate my cakes. And my logic on that comes from decades of our moms and grammas keeping a cake under a dome lid on the counter for days and days. They didnt' refrigerate it and it always tasted great.
Also if you freeze your cakes, it actually adds moisture to the cake. I wrap my cakes in saran and freeze them for at least a few hours before icing them. Just keep them wrapped as they thaw to keep the moisture in the cake.
Thanks! I was hoping I could start the process on Thursday.